What: Solo exhibition

With: OCA students Dorothy & Anne B

Where: RPS building, Paintworks, Bristol

When: 8th June, 2019

Curator:

Location, setting, atmosphere:

The location is much better than the previous RPS building in Bath which was not the best place to show exhibitions. It benefits from having the MPF next door so it has footfall from that.

Setting: The room was very dark with spotlights on the images which use colour very effectively.

Atmosphere: there is a deep darkness which sets off the mewl-like colour effects in this show. It reminded me of the exhibition “Land / Sea” by Mike Perry in Plymouth I saw in 2017 in which the found plastics which pollute our land and sea were aestheticised and put in frames:

More were arranged in picturesque grids:

or were put in vitrines:

Mandy Barker showed a different perspective but, in my opinion, maintained that aestheticised display concept to draw her viewers in:

I appreciated the annotated images which showed where she had gathered her material:

Highlights:

  • Seeing how effective altering the size of the images is. In this display, the colourful arrangements shown in an A0 + size had a far stronger impact on me than the same image smaller would have had.
  • Having the prime material of research finds was also a powerful impact on what the exhibition was saying.
  • The research findings of this project were instrumental in showing that plastic pollution is spread over the entire planet & not just in India or UK or the Pacific ocean.

What I took away with me about the work:

  • It was exceptional photography in terms of use of colour, perspectives (metaphorical and physical), and composition.
  • The variety of the sizes of images on display did not make you feel that you were seeing the same thing over and over again but in different arrangements and colours.
  • The aesthetics lures unsuspecting people in to see the colours and objects only for them to discover that all that colour is thrown forward by the darkness of the message behind it.
  • It uses traditional photography to highlight a very contemporary catastrophe.
  • I can’t believe that with all our new technology, galleries still can’t overcome the reflected light blight!

What I took away with me about me:

  • It made me think about the role of traditional photography in contemporary practice: is post-photography as capable of showing up such Anthropocene disasters as traditional photography is? If so, can I challenge myself to convey the Barker message as strongly as she did?

Notes:

  • Am I equipped to make that step in terms of having my own research and prime sources?
  • Can I use Barker’s work to make my own post-photography work?

Next steps:

  • Meet my challenge? perhaps through the study of fault lines and lichen – or is that too far fetched?

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